Healthcare resource utilization and costs among patients with rheumatoid arthritis on biologic therapies in Taiwan: A 1-year mirror-image study using a national claims database

Kuan Chen Chen, Chu Hua Wu, Chao Hsiun Tang, Kuo Cherh Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Objectives This nationwide population-based study aimed at evaluating healthcare resource utilization and direct medical costs among rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients receiving biologic therapies in Taiwan. Design and setting A retrospective cohort of 2,425 RA patients who had received first-line tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α antagonist treatment for at least 6 months (the baseline period) between 2007 and 2011 was identified from the National Health Insurance Research Database in Taiwan. Outcome measures Healthcare resource utilization and direct medical costs of those patients were analyzed and compared 1 year before the index date and during the 1-year follow-up. Results Analytical results demonstrated that 87.7% of RA patients received the same TNF-α antagonist during the 1-year follow-up, 2.4% of the patients switched to another TNF-α antagonist after the baseline period, 7.1% of the study cohort received a second-line biologic agent, while the remaining patients discontinued use of any TNF-α antagonist. Compared to 1 year before the index date, there were significant reductions in emergency room visits and hospitalization days for RA patients treated with the same TNF-α antagonist during the 1-year follow-up. However, there was an increase of outpatient visits among those patients. For those RA patients who switched to another TNF-α antagonist or received a second-line biologic agent, they consumed more healthcare resources. Furthermore, the corresponding medication costs went up markedly during the 1-year follow-up, but nearly all total direct medical costs (biologics excluded) were significantly reduced across the study cohort. Lastly, male patients incurred slightly higher medical costs than their counterparts, albeit in a statistically insignificant fashion. Conclusions This investigation revealed that RA patients treated with biologics utilized fewer emergency room visits and shorter hospitalization days, but incurred higher costs. In summary, this study provides meaningful information on healthcare resource utilization and medical costs of RA patients for healthcare providers and policymakers.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0200758
Pages (from-to)e0200758
JournalPLoS One
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 2018


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

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